Monday, January 07, 2013

Judge Not my Child


                                Judge Not my Child

          Summer 1987, Samantha Tusker knew she was at least two months pregnant. She had missed two menstrual cycles and the morning sickness confirmed her biggest fear. Just one month away from her annual physical and there was no way the physician on base was going to miss the obvious. She was already starting to show and the extra pounds weren’t helping any. She was entering her fourth year in the navy and had planned to make a career out of the military. She had talked to her lover about her options, but that didn’t go well when he refused to take responsibility and risk his own career. When her commanding officer calls her in one afternoon, she refuse to reveal who the father was and earned her, a medical discharge. She returned to her home town and took a job working for the phone company. Her expertise in Naval  communication made her an ideal candidate, and that became her life. She never got married and dedicated her life to raising her only child.  Her parents wanted nothing to do with her bastard child, as her father stated the day she returned home. It was two years before her father allowed her mother to visit their grandchild and another year before he met the child himself and mended his relationship with his daughter.
          Winter 2011, Mary knew she couldn't tell her parents, they would be mad or worst they would disown her. She also couldn't tell Andy, he would want her to get an abortion, his scholarship to UCLA was more important than becoming a father at such a young age. For the last few weeks he had been giving her the cold shoulder, always an excuse why he wouldn't see her. She had told him after their first time together, that she didn't want to keep giving herself to him unless they were married. Andy had said that he wasn't ready or even planning to get married until long after he finished college. He had already started hanging around with a new girl and ignoring Mary. Andy was a tall and handsome young man, starting quarterback and smart. Scouts were lining up to recruit him to their college programs. He came from a well to do family and was expected by both his parents to complete college with a law degree and return home to work for their firm. Mary on the other hand was from a hard working, Christian, middle class family and without a scholarship she was most likely going to marry, be a wife and a stay at home mom. She now realized that Andy had taken advantage of her and of her innocents.

      Mary laid in her bed one night and began to cry and feel sorry for herself. She asked herself over and over again what was she going to do and couldn't come up with an answer that brought her comfort. She tries praying but felt that after the sin she had committed, that God no longer cared enough to answer her. With four months still left to graduation she had no idea how she would hide the inevitable. She thought if she could get through the school year and graduate without anyone knowing her situation, she would just go away, have her baby and raise her child on her own. She had told Andy that an abortion was not an option for her; he was willing to pay for one and be done with the whole mess as he called it. After only six weeks since conceiving, Mary was already in love with her child and wouldn't even consider Andy's option. “Go and just forget about us, but don't ever come back to see us or try to be a part of this child's life, because I will deny you any rights” were her last words to him. She laid there staring at the ceiling with tears rolling down her cheeks and soaking her pillow. She wished her parents were more understanding and easier to communicate with, but that was never the case, especially with her father. 
      Douglas was a big man and at times intimidating, at six foot three inches and two hundred and forty pounds, to little Mary he was a giant. He had been a drill sergeant in the army and ran his home in the same manner. Her mother Rachel was small like her and never questioned her husband or any decisions he made, if he said jump she asked how high. She knew that if her father put her out, there would be nothing her mother would be able to do. Mary and Rachel always had a great relationship, but this was one time she could not go to her mother for advice. Her father was by all accounts a Christian, but as Mary got older and wiser she also knew that he was very judgmental. Douglas thought that people should be perfect, just like he saw himself and always judged those who for one reason or another, stumbled. His thoughts were that people need to have self control and never ever give into temptation. He called people who made mistakes, weaklings and if they were Christians, he would call them lame. Her father didn’t have many friends, because people could never live up to his overly high standards. Mary never recalls a time when anyone ever stood up to her dad and if he was the one who made a mistake, God forbid that anyone point it out to him. Her mother was the total opposite, thoughtful of others, soft spoken, meek, humble, kind and always saw the good in others. Her mother was a praying person and did so for those who had strayed or thought they had fallen from grace. She was respectful to a fault and never went against her husband’s wishes or his authority. Mary had no doubt that if she confined in her mother, she would not dare keep such a thing from her husband. Rachel didn’t know how to keep secrets from her husband and it was born out of fear, the fear that he would get angry. Her husband had never physically hurt her, but he knew how to do enough damage with his stature and words. Mary found herself alone with nowhere to turn, but to Mary herself and that’s what she was going to do.
          With just three weeks until graduation, Mary was happy not to be showing any signs of her pregnancy. For three and a half months she had manage to keep it a secret even from her best friend, she trusted no one to keep the secret with her. The only other person that knew was Andy and she knew that he would not tell a soul for fear of having to own up to his responsibility. No one in her youth group had suspected that out of all the teens, she be the one in this predicament. All she had to do is get passed the next month and she would be home free. She had been saving money for over two years to buy a car after graduation, but her plan was now to use that money to move out on her own. She would wait until then to apply for public assistance to help pay for the birth of her child. She knew that raising a child as a single parent was not an easy task, but she also knew that she had no other choice.
          Carl was a member of the youth group Mary attended and also in the same graduating class. Other than an occasional hello, the two never spoke to one another. He was a tall good looking young man but also very shy. He hung out mostly with the school’s nerdy group, not that he was socially awkward, he was as bright and as computer savvy as any of them, also felt comfortable around them.  He was also their protector and less people picked on them when he was around.  He liked Mary and for two years couldn’t get up the nerve to talk to her, let alone ask her on a date. After the youth service on the Friday before graduation, a few out of the group were going to a Denny’s for a bite and Carl was invited. At first he declined but when he saw that Mary was part of the group, he quickly accepted. There were nine of them all together, so when they arrived two tables were pulled side by side and only by chance, Carl sat across from Mary. For the first time the two stuck up a conversation and found out they had a lot in common and also found each other easy to talk with. At the end of the evening they exchange phone number and vow to stay in touch.
          Once at home and in her room Mary was at her usual, crying and feeling sorry for herself and about her loneliness. She really had no one to talk to and share her burden and stress. “Carl was too sweet” the thought shocked her and where had that come from, she asked herself. She had seen him around for the last few years and found him to be a good looking guy but had never thought about him at all. Tonight all her sadness was that she wish she had met him before giving herself to someone like Andy. Carl was a Christian and he was the kind of person her parent had always wanted for her. She had gone out with Andy for the popularity and look where that landed her, "nowhere but lonely land." The thought made her laugh through her tears at her own joke, before closing her eyes and falling asleep.
          Carl was up half the night and tried keeping himself busy on the computer playing video game or reading his gaming magazines. Nothing he did took away his thought of Mary’s beautiful face, she was his every thought and around three in the morning, he finally fell asleep with a plan. At ten in the morning he woke up took a bath, dressed and picked up the phone and dialed. “Hello” came the voice he longed to hear, but he lost his thoughts for a minute and again she said, “Hello who is this?” He snapped out of his trance and replied, “Carl, I think” and realized he had said something stupid. “You think your name is Carl” she replied and they both laughed. “No, it is” he said feeling a little awkward, and then continued before he would lose his last nerve. “I’m just calling to see if would like to grab some breakfast and maybe go to the mall?”She sat at her end with a smile on her face for the first time in days. “Did you say the mall?” She replied with a question, “I didn’t know guys like to go to the mall.” She said more like in a statement then a question. “Well we don’t, in fact I kind of hate the mall and the crowd, but I thought maybe you would say yes because girls love the mall.” He laughed at the statement he had made and she joined in and then said, “I would love to go with you.” He let go of the breath he’d been holding in before he could comment.  “I’ll pick you up in an hour” he replied and said good bye before she would change her mind. Carl arrived an hour later in his mother’s Honda SUV and they made small talk  on their ten minute ride to the mall. They parked, walked inside and headed to the food court. They each settled for a slice of pizza and sat at a table to eat and talked for the next half an hour. The following hour they walked through the mall talking and laughing, but out of nowhere, Mary became silent. Carl asked her if he had said something wrong when he saw that her countenance had turned sad. “No” she replied “it’s just me; I have a lot on my mind and problems that only I can solve on my own.” He turns to face her with a bit of concern on his face.  “Anything I can help you with?” He asked. “I wish, but no there is nothing anyone can do to help” she said and he noticed that she was ready to cry. “I don’t understand, what can be so bad that you wouldn’t ask for help, if it’s troubling you that much.” He faced forward once again and to continue to walk as Mary began to speak.  “Sorry Carl, you’re a nice guy, I really mean that, but I can’t talk about it, can you please take me home, I’m not feeling too good at the moment.” With a little disappointment he replied, “sure no problem.” On the way to Mary’s house she didn’t say a single word except “good bye” when he dropped her off in front of her house where she quickly ran inside. A few hours later her phone rang and she saw that it was Carl and at first she thought about not answering but decided she might as well get it over with. “Hello Carl” she said when she answered the phone. “Hello Mary, I just wanted to check on you and make sure that you were okay” he replied and waited for her response. “I’m fine, and I was meaning to call you and apologize for the way I acted, but also there is something that I wanted to say to you” she said but didn’t know how to continue. Carl waited but when she didn’t speak up, he asked and wished he had kept quiet. “What do you want to talk about?” he fell silent and waited for Mary to continue.  “Listen Carl, I meant it when I said that you’re a really nice guy and under other circumstances things might have been different between us, maybe something more than just friends.” Carl was about to speak but she interrupted and asked him to hear her out and he went silent and just listened. She continued and Carl could tell that she was struggling with the words. “I’m leaving town next Saturday after graduation and I don’t think that I’ll be returning. I don’t want to mislead you into thinking that we could be more than just friends and wind up hurting your feeling because you deserve someone better than me.” Thinking he would make her feel at ease he said, “I just wanted to be a friend, I wasn’t asking for your hand in marriage, at least not yet or till we know each other better” he said with lots of humor in his voice hoping to cheer her up. She laughed along with him, and in her heart she wished she had become friends with him a long time before the mess she found herself in. “I have to go” was the last thing she said before the line went dead in his ear.
          Andy sat in his room the night before his graduation and contemplated telling his parents about the issue with Mary. He figured that it was wiser to speak up now, then if they found out after he was off to college. What their reaction would be he had no idea, but finding out through another source later would be a lot worse for him. His parents were devote Catholics and babies out of wedlock was a sin they frown upon. He knew they were in the family room watching TV and having their double scotch on the rocks, like getting hammered daily wasn’t a sin, he thought to himself. He walked down the stairs and into the room where they sat and took a seat across from them. “I need to talk to both of you” he said and waited for their attention. His father turned off the volume and they both looked his way and waited for him to proceed. “I think I may have a little problem and I have no idea how to make it go away.” Both parents being attorneys asked simultaneously, “and what is this problem?” Andy sat there for a minute and neither parent said a word and waited for his answer. “Mary is pregnant and I’m the one responsible” he replied a bit nervous and afraid of their reaction. “How could you do this at this stage of your life?” his mother yelled as she got up and stood in front of him. “It was an accident” he replied. “Is that what you call it, an accident; an accident was when you crashed my Lexus while texting and driving. This was not an accident; this was your stupidity and carelessness. You’re trying to be a grown man, long before you’re able to be responsible for your actions” his father was hollering off the top of his lungs. This wasn’t going as well as Andy had thought it would go. He knew his parents were going to be upset but this was far worst then he had imagined. His father went on getting louder with each word, “for tonight we will let this matter rest, but after the graduation tomorrow, we are going down to her house and settle this. We will make sure that they understand that we want no part of this child. If she chooses to have this child she is not to expect a dime from this family.
          Friday Mary woke up took a shower and stood in front of the mirror before getting dress and stared at her stomach. She was starting to show more every day and soon there would be no hiding what nature was doing. She dressed and then put on her graduation gown and was glad that it was loose enough to hide the small bulged. She walked out of her room and entered the kitchen where her parents where having their coffee. Her mother was the first to speak, “good morning and you look lovely.” Her father smiles and said “Yes honey you look beautiful, your mother and I are so proud of you.” At the same time getting up off his chair and giving her a hug along with a kiss. “Thanks daddy” she replied and at the same time thinking, “if you only knew you wouldn’t be so proud.” The three of them left and headed to the school auditorium making only small talk in the car while her father drove. The ceremony lasted about two hours and by one in the afternoon all the students were outside on the lawn taking pictures and saying their farewells. Her parents invited a few of her friends over for some finger food and to cut a cake. Carl had walked over during the invites and her parents also extended him the same invitation. He looked at Mary and when she didn’t object he accepted and said he would come over after going home and changing.
       At Mary’s house things went as her mother had planned and by four in the afternoon all but her best friend and Carl remained. They were all sitting in the living room when the door bell rang. Her father got off the couch and excused himself to answer the door. The only words that echoed into the living room, after her father was gone for about two minute was, “she’s what?” The question was spoken with such anger that for some strange reason, Mary knew that her father had just learned her dirty little secret. Her father along with Andy and his parents entered the living room and she just wanted to die or at best to crawl under a rock and let it crush her flat. Her father was so angry that he spoke before excusing their guest. “Is it true that you are pregnant with this boy’s child?” Everyone just stared at her waiting for her answer but it wouldn’t be the simple yes or no they were expecting. Mary began to cry from the shame and humiliation she felt but in an instant she stood up, wiped the tears with the back of her hand and faced her father and said, “yes I am, and you are correct in calling him a boy, because a real man would have stood by the girl he got pregnant. He would have owned up to his responsibility, and to set the record straight counselors, I already told your son that I don’t want a thing from him. And so that everyone here knows what my plans are, I planned to leave here tomorrow and have my baby and raise him or her on my own. There will be no abortion and no one but I, will have rights to this child.” Her father was still fuming and said, “I thought you were better than this, you have caused your mother and I shame in this house today, are you not ashamed of yourself?” with tears now rolling down her face she replied looking straight in her father’s eyes.  “Yes I am, I’m ashamed that you wouldn’t love me enough to over look this one mistake and I’m ashamed that I was naive enough to have let a worthless jock, talk me into bed with him, and I’m glad it was only once even though the results are the same. She looked around the room at everyone present and without another word she left the room, walked to her bedroom and closed the door. Andy's parent made it clear before they left that they wanted no part of supporting the baby and the only thing they were willing to do was pay for an abortion at their son’s request. Mary’s father did his best to act civilize and as polite as possible he threw Andy and his parents out of his home. After they left and her parents calmed down her mother knocked on her door and walked in. With more love and compassion then she expected and thought she deserved, her mother sat on her bed, wrapped her arms around her and together they cried. “I don’t want you to leave” her mother finally said. “Daddy hates me for what I have done and I have shamed him, he will never ever talk to me again, so the best thing for everyone is that I leave.” Her mother pulled her closer and said, “He will come around and get over his anger and the shame, if there is anything to be ashamed of. God forgives all our shortcomings because he loves us and a parent is no different” her mother said behind the tears. They sat there for over an hour without a word said between the two and her mother left the room, when she had cried herself to sleep.   
 It had been a week since graduation, the happiest and also the most humiliating day of her life. Mary had not left her room since she walked into it that day; her father had not stopped in once or spoken a single word to her. Her mother would ask her to come out but she refused, so three to four times a day she brought her food and a snack to keep up her strength. She had not answered a single phone call, not from her best friend and certainly not from Carl who had called everyday around six in the evening. He had only left a voice massage one time in the past week wanting to talk was all he said. She would stare at the phone wanting so badly to talk to him but shame would get the better of her and she would just let it ring till it stopped. 
 After a week she started to get cabin fever and decided she would get out and go shopping for things she would need for her baby. She got dress and walked out her room not wanting to run into her parents, she hurried to the front door. Passing the living room she saw her father sitting and watching a baseball game but thought better of saying anything and continued towards the front door. Before reaching it the doorbell rung and she froze where she stood. Her mother had come up behind her and tapping her on the shoulder, asked if she was okay. Her mother opens the door and Mary saw two young men standing outside. The one to the left she recognized, the one on the right she had never seen before, but he was the splitting image of her father, only twenty or so years younger. She thought that this had to be her father’s younger brother, an uncle she had never met. The young look alike said, “Is this the home of a Douglas Mann?” Her and her mother just stared before her mother called her husband to the door. Her father stepped up to see who was it that was disturbing his game and he too froze when he saw a younger version of himself standing and staring back. “Douglas Mann, my name is Philip Tusker and I believed you and my mother Samantha dated in the army back in 1987. I’m her son and I’m looking for my bi-logical father.” Everyone was silent for a minute and then her mother looked away from the young man and at her husband and said, “Douglas Mann” and softly he replied like he was still catching his breath and picking up his jaw off the floor. “Yes dear?” He asked knowing she was about to say something profound. She replied immediately, “I believe you owe your daughter a big apology.” Her father turn to her with the only tears she had ever seen on the biggest man she knew and he just snatched her off her feet and wouldn’t let go. Finally when he put her down she turned her attention to the other young man who everyone had ignored. Not wanting to look him in the eye out of the shame she still felt, she looked at the ground and said, “Hi Carl, you seem to be here every time we have a family shocker going on.” Carl reached out his hand, picked up her chin, looked her in the eye first then said, “why ended there” then he turned and looked at her father and said, May I have your blessing, to marry the most beautiful girl in the world.” 

Written by Tbone / atw Jah

 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8


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